Quick-Smoked Grilled Salmon

June 23, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This simple technique is a big change up from ordinary grilled fish. It produces a moist fillet with a hint of smokiness in 10 minutes. Note that the recipe calls for a charcoal grill, but you could use a gas grill outfitted with a smoker box or foil packet for the wood chips. —Rural Eating

Test Kitchen Notes

I feel like I have tried salmon every which way, but this new (for me) method yielded perfectly cooked flesh with an addictive smoky flavor. I used hickory chips, a stronger "flavor," which I feared would overwhelm the fish—it did not. I had a 2.12-pound filet, so I doubled the rub (I used thyme as the herb of choice), but only used 3/4 of it. I will say that it came out very salty at the end, but I suspect that was my fault. I might have gotten distracted (toddler tantrum) and doubled the salt that I had alread doubled, OR I left the rub on too long while I was futzing with the grill. Or both. No matter, I set the whole filet down on the table, and the group of us just sat there and peeled off the delicious flakes of salmon... I cooked the filet, which was about 1 inch at the thickest part, for 10 minutes on the cooler side of the grill, and moved it over to the hot coals for another 5 minutes. I haven't enjoyed such a perfectly cooked piece of fish in a while. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will be more cautious with the salt, but I think it only really matters if you wish to serve it as an entrée. As I said, we rather enjoyed our salty snack/appetizer. —Allison Bruns Buford

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Quick-Smoked Grilled Salmon
  • Lemon-salt-herb rub
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt [Editor's note: We preferred 1 teaspoon, finding 2 teaspoons a bit too salty!)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill, or tarragon
  • Smoked salmon fillet
  • 1 salmon fillet, skin on (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup wood chips, such as cedar, alder or hickory, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  1. Use your fingers to rub the kosher salt and the lemon zest together in a small bowl. Mix in the herbs well, crushing them with your fingers to release the essential oils.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for a medium heat (275 to 300° F, or so you can hold your outstretched palm 6 inches over the grate for 6 to 8 seconds). Bank the coals onto one side. Scrape the grate well and oil it lightly.
  3. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the flesh side of the fish. When the grill is ready, drain the wood chips well and place directly on top of the coals (or in smoker box/packet).
  4. Put the fish skin-side down on the side of the grate, away from the coals. Close the grill cover leaving the vents partway open and watch for smoke to appear. Smoke the fish for 10 minutes.
  5. Open the grill, slip a spatula underneath the skin and slide the fish over so that it sits directly over the heat source. Replace the cover and grill until the center is opaque and the fish is firm but yielding to the touch, 5 to 6 minutes more, depending on thickness.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • jpriddy
  • Rural Eating
    Rural Eating
  • Christine
  • Brian

7 Reviews

Christine May 31, 2021
We made this recipe for lunch and served it with cream cheese we topped with everything bagel seasoning, capers, cucumber, and lemon wedges. Alongside, we tested another flavor, but this recipe was the clear winner. We used the recipe's 2 tsp course French sea salt and didn't think it was too salty at all. Super easy, but so impressive. Dare I say, this will be our go-to summer appetizer from here on out!
jpriddy October 30, 2020
We have always grilled wild salmon with butter, lemon, and dill, but this sounds delicious!
Brian March 31, 2018
I have cooked Salomon on the grill many times but never smoked one. This will be my go to. Way better than boarding the fish. The herbs and lemon zest are perfect. I used my Kamato Grill and smoked asparagus too. Great flavor. Thank you.Food52
Brian L. NJ
Mary F. August 12, 2017
I used this method on the Big Green Egg, za'atar for seasoning, wood chunks for smoke, took it out at 125F. People who ate it thought the texture and flavor were extraordinary, best, ever, etc. I appreciated the low stress of cooking over lower temps, too!
Rural E. August 13, 2017
That sounds amazing! Including the low stress component.
Cathy K. June 27, 2016
We made this salmon for a group of twenty food lovers last night and it was a hit! Simple yet delicious.
Rural E. July 10, 2017
So happy to hear that, Cathy!